YouTube Unplugged Online TV service may be coming

Martin Brinkmann
May 5, 2016
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Companies, Music and Video, Youtube

YouTube is without doubt the most popular video hosting and streaming website on the Internet, and even though that is the case, Google did not make any money from the service last year.

That's probably the main reason why Google is looking to bring other revenue models to the video hosting site.

The company launched YouTube Red recently, a paid subscription service that is provided for $9.99 per month. Subscribers get an ad-free experience on YouTube and access to original content and formats only available to them.

Google has yet to reveal how successful YouTube Red is, but it was clear right from the beginning that it is just the first step for the company.

youtube unplugged tv

According to reports, Google is in talks right now to add an online TV service to YouTube bridging the gap between traditional TV and the Internet.

The idea behind YouTube Unplugged is to bring cable TV to YouTube's audience for a subscription fee. Unlike traditional cable TV subscriptions however, YouTube plans to make channels available in smaller packages that users can select those from that they are interested in.

While not mentioned explicitly, it seems likely that the offer will be limited to the United States. All companies that YouTube is in talks with right now are based in the US, and if the past is anything to go by, the offer will be restricted geographically and not available to a worldwide audience.

It would be a pleasant surprise though if that would not be the case and something that could break down the geographically barrier that has prevented content from being accessible worldwide at the same time for so long.

YouTube aims at 2017 as the launch year of YouTube Unplugged. The company has yet to sign a contract with one of the large cable providers in the US though and that is one of the reasons why certain key information are not known yet.

We don't know yet for instance if YouTube Unplugged will be added to YouTube Red, available as an add-on to YouTube Red, or if it will only be available separately on the site.

Reports suggest that YouTube aims to offer a main package for less than $35 which suggests that YouTube Unplugged will most likely be a standalone offer that users need to subscribe to separately.

YouTube plans to offer less-watched packages on top of that that feature smaller channel groups that users can subscribe to next to the main package.

It remains to be seen how successful such an offer would be. It depends a lot on price and content, but also how this is offered.

Now You: What would make you subscribe to YouTube Unplugged?

YouTube Unplugged Online TV service may be coming
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YouTube Unplugged Online TV service may be coming
YouTube Unplugged is a planned subscription-based Online TV service that Google plans to launch on YouTube in 2017.
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  1. mikef90000 said on May 5, 2016 at 11:01 pm

    YouTube would have to clean up their putrid Roku UI and give me the option to turn off unwanted ‘Recommendations’. Since this isn’t likely, I may miss out on ‘Unplugged’.

    1. mikef90000 said on May 7, 2016 at 1:25 am

      Well, “nice” to one person is putrid to another. I have the Roku streaming stick, and I periodically delete and add the Roku app to make sure it is up to date. It looks very similar to the one on my mom’s Roku 3.

      What I absolutely Hate and do not understand the motivation for is their unrelenting push of “Recommendations”. I have dozens of subscriptions that cannot be easily scrolled through, organized (due to recent simplification of YT) OR VIEWED. Instead other barely meaningful, useless categories are forced to the top of the list. This is “nice”??

      Other Roku apps (like say PBS) look and work great. I chalk up the terrible Roku UI to some mandate to add “Discover and Enjoy” features to all Alphabet products (also see Google Maps street view). Roku even has a Todd Beaupré, Product Manager, YouTube Discovery who is responsible for implementing this using “deep neural network technology”. Wow, this is some deep horse manure.

      Roku is proud to admit their bias toward to (the two digit IQ side of) the 18 to 49 y/o demographic. Sorry JR, not including you :). Look at the YT blog, even the youngsters are hating these changes.

      1. RJ said on May 7, 2016 at 11:34 pm

        Well. So far I have not found any official youtube app that takes away the recommendations section. I guess it does not seem to bother me. I do see your point on the subscriptions ordeal. Would be nice to view those easier.

    2. JR said on May 6, 2016 at 10:18 am

      Not sure which ROKU you have, But the Roku 3 and above has a nice Youtube UI. The older rokus I assume have old and dated looking UI’s. My favorite though is the NVidia Shield. If I could afford to replace my 4 Rokus with a shield I would do it now.

  2. Kasey said on May 5, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    If Google -> YouTube can bring me cable w/o commercials and provide new content which I can PAY to have the ads removed from and just, you know, enjoy my shows / content without constantly being pandered to by advertisements, you just show me where to send my money!!

    Ad free tv is necessary!

    1. anon said on May 5, 2016 at 8:59 pm

      YouTube Red already removes ads from regular YouTube so it should apply to YouTube Unplugged as well.

  3. Roman Podolyan said on May 5, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    > What would make you subscribe to YouTube Unplugged?

    Well, I think the only thing which could make me paid subscriber is someone who pays me for that more than subscription actually costs :)

    I was paying user of Quake Live for 2 years, with a great discount for like $19 a year. It was cheap, and it had some _functionality_ free users don’t have: ability to run your own servers. But to pay for watching content? No way. I have enough content I can access for free. If you want me to watch your content – you have to pay me for that :)

  4. stilofilos said on May 5, 2016 at 10:39 am

    Am I wrong with the impression that they see Netflix run away with a lucrative market, of which they want their slice as well ?
    And that they make the same idiot error with their localization, instead of using their weight to finally enforce a globalised distribution ?
    Anyway, as it looks now, no way they would get me. Not interested in american content, the ‘cultural’ gap with my mindset is way too big.
    If they would ever let me make a package with Arte, ZDF, and the likes, without imposing a set of unwanted junk channels for the sake of their extra monetising, and if they let me freely try out unknown channels before deciding to subscribe to them or not, and if they would finally stop their filtering…, that could eventually make me change my mind.
    But I don’t see that happen in this life anymore. Plus, getting such content into my life again after ten years without it, and never having actually missed it…, is not really one of my priorities.

    1. anon said on May 5, 2016 at 10:57 am

      Localization is inevitable due to regulations and laws. And YouTube has been doing it for years since if you live outside the US, it filters videos like the popular ones, etc. based on your country (you can choose “Worldwide (All)” in the Country drop-down menu to disable that filter).

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